Viruses cause many serious diseases. Here are 4 dangerous and interesting ones explained.


This disease is transmitted by rabid animals to humans typically by a bite.  After being bitten, the disease slowly progresses through the nervous system until it reaches the brain.  It is 100% fatal at that point.

Because of how slow the disease progresses, it is possible to be vaccinated for rabies after being infected.

A girl was infected with rabies at church in the early 2000s and was given an experimental treatment.  She was the first person known to ever have survived rabies.  The treatment used on her was an induced coma and heavy dosing of anti-viral medications and is now used in other cases as a last ditch method.


This was one of the worst killers until we developed a vaccine to it, taking millions of lives per year until then.

Measels is a disease that is exceptionally contagious.  As a professor of virology puts it, if he came to class with it and released it into the room, if you weren’t vaccinated, there is an almost 100% chance of infection.

Its high mortality rate and exceptional infectiousness made measles a somewhat rare disease until modern times.

A fascinating complication of measles is the development of disease 2-10 years after initial infection.  As an RNA virus, it is a puzzle how the virus is able to remain passively in the human host until then to cause disease.


Ebola is a terrifying disease that kills through massive and excessive bleeding.  It has a mortality rate that is extremely high, in some cases killing most people who are infected.  Fortunately, it does not spread easily in humans – so far.

Primarily found in animals, ebola must mutate to become human infectious and has yet to achieve a foothold because it kills almost everyone who catches it.

Ebola is believed to be a strong contributor to the possible extinction of gorillas as it kills a great many per year.


Poliio is a disease that became a serious health concern with the introduction of improved sanitary conditions.  This is because previously, contaminated water supply meant kids were exposed to the disease at a young age, acquiring protection.

This lack of protection became an issue around the 20th century as a rising number of cases occurred.  Most cases of polio are mild, but a significant percentage lead to paralysis.  One of the most famous people to suffer from polio is former US president, Franklin Roosevelt.



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